When people think of a smile makeover, many people think of braces. And it's true that braces can create a very powerful before and after image. However, not every smile makeover involves braces. There are quite a few ways to re-shape your smile that don't involve as much time or investment as braces.
Veneers were originally invented as a quick fix for the teeth of Hollywood stars, and they're still a great way to re-shape your smile quickly and easily. Veneers are thin porcelain sleeves that are slipped over your natural teeth and permanently cemented in place. Veneers can be designed to fix gaps between teeth, make them more uniform in shape and size, or cover teeth that are stained or discolored in a way that cosmetic whitening can't fix. Placing porcelain veneers is a fairly fast process that mostly involves preparing your natural teeth so the veneers fit securely. Getting veneers is painless and doesn't require any healing time.
A gummy smile, where the gums cover more of the tooth than normal, can make teeth look small and make a person's smile look more juvenile that they'd like. Luckily, cosmetic gum contouring (also called a gum lift) can re-shape gums, revealing more of the tooth crown to make teeth appear longer without actually having to change the shape or position of your teeth. Gum contouring can also make a gumline more uniform, for example, if gum tissue covers more of one of your front teeth than the others, making your teeth appear to be different sizes. Because gum contouring involves removing gum tissue (usually with a special dental laser), the dentist will use local anesthetic to numb your mouth during the procedure. There is some healing time after gum contouring during which your gums may be sore or sensitive, but this usually subsides within a few days. Like veneers, a gum lift is a fast way to dramatically change the appearance of your smile.
Aesthetic bonding is the process of adding composite resin or porcelain to a tooth in order to change its shape. Bonding is most commonly used as a way to repair chipped teeth, but this treatment can also be applied for aesthetic purposes. For example, if you have a large gap between your front teeth, instead of shifting the teeth using braces, the dentist can used bonding to make the teeth a little wider so there isn't as big of a gap. Bonding can also be used to make an usually small tooth (sometimes called a peg tooth) that didn't develop properly the same size as your other teeth. Best of all, bonding is not an invasive procedure so it requires no anesthetic and no healing time afterward. Bonding usually only takes one visit and is very affordable compared to some other smile makeover treatments.
If you're thinking of changing the appearance of your smile, it's best to talk to the dentist about your options. While many people get their teeth straightened with braces for cosmetic purposes, braces are primarily used to treat poor alignment, which can lead to other oral problems or jaw problems. If in addition to crooked teeth you have a bad bite (your top and bottom teeth don't like up correctly), the dentist may recommend that you get braces after all.Whether you're a good candidate for veneers, gum contouring or bonding may also depend on other aspects of your oral health. Ask us today for a cosmetic consultation to discuss which smile makeover treatment is right for your oral health situation and your goals for your smile!